We live in a hot take society these days, and small things can get blown out of proportion in no time. After reading a recent Reddit thread it hit me: Filipina women off Filipino Cupid are basically the modern day mail order brides.
Of course it isn’t just Filipino Cupid, it can be PinaLove or any other dating site around the world where you can log and and chat with girls from far away. This can actually be far more efficient than how mail order bride businesses used to be run in the past.
How Mail Order Brides Used to Work
While I never used one, they were a bit before my time (pre 1990 in the Philippines), I think I have a good understanding of how they worked. You contacted some company in Asia who mailed you a packet with a bunch of pictures of girls and a small write up on each.
You chose one, maybe a few, and started a slow correspondence with them. Judging by how bad the mail can be in third world countries the Philippines I kinda wonder if you ever were actually chatting with the girl you thought you were, or if the company was just making everything up for her.
Officially the Filipino mail order bride business was made illegal through the Anti Mail-Order-Bride Law of 1990, which prohibits the practice of matching Filipino women for marriage to foreign nationals on a mail order basis.
Then when it came time to meet the girl they told her the made up background and when you met she played the part that was written for her.
You were happy, you had a pretty young Filipina bride by your side. She was happy, she was now living in a developed country presumably with a guy that could afford to support her.
Of course her fingers were probably crossed the whole time hoping that she didn’t end up with an asshole.
Flash forward 25 years and the game has completely changed. No middle man making up stories, no waiting 6 weeks to get another letter from your new soul mate.
Instead you hop on a dating site like Filipino Cupid, Vietnam Cupid, or International Cupid and start chatting with as many girls as you want. Many of them would gladly be your modern day mail order bride for chance to live in the USA.
I have been married to what some might call a “mail order” bride for almost a year now, but first let me correct a few common misconceptions about how it works now (in the USA, at least).
First, you can no longer just get a catalog and pick a woman out of it and pay to have her sent to you. 20+ years ago maybe, but not any more. In order for her to get a K-1 Fiancee visa, you have to have met her in person at least once and provide substantial evidence of a meaningful relationship such as pictures with both of you, email/phone/chat logs, or other documents such as travel records showing you were both in the same place at the same time (You can apply for an exception to this on cultural grounds if both you and her are part of cultures that regularly practice arranged marriages).
Second, she still has to go through all of the procedures involved in getting a permanent immigration visa. That means background checks, medical checks (which can usually only be performed at a very short list of places who naturally charge a lot), tons of documents from both parties, and an interview in person at her country’s US embassy (or sometime, at a consulate) which might be a really long way for her to go if she doesn’t live in her country’s capital city.
Third, if you meet her through a service (legally known as an “International Marriage Broker”, or IMB) designed specifically to match Americans with foreigners looking to marry and immigrate, you have to get a background check done on yourself, and that information is then given to her as soon as you start talking. This information includes things such as your criminal record (especially any history of domestic violence), your marital and family history (number of previous wives/divorces, number of children) and personal information (age, full legal name, etc.).
All that said, I went on a tour of Thailand as a combination vacation and to meet some of the women on one of these sites. I was 34 at the time and the next youngest man who was there at the same time as me was 48, and I’m pretty sure all of them (8 others) had been married before at least once. As for the women, some just seemed like they wanted money or free food/drinks, others seemed like they just found foreigners more attractive but had no interest in leaving their country, and very very few seemed like they might be honestly interested in me and in moving to America eventually. Most of them I couldn’t even have a conversation with since they didn’t speak enough English. I consider myself lucky to have found the woman who I ended up marrying, since she was both one of the honest ones and she had a university degree in English.
I kept in touch with her daily over internet chat and video chat, and I flew back to see her 3 additional times before the 5th and final time when I flew over there with my family and she flew back with us. We had a traditional Thai engagement ceremony while my family was there and we had a small courthouse wedding a month after we got back to America.
Our first anniversary is next month, and right now she’s going to an American community college to try for an associate’s degree here while cooking me delicious Thai food all the time. So I’d say it’s going great so far. We’ve had a few arguments/fights (like I assume most newly married couples do, especially ones that didn’t live together before marriage) but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
– Redditor Laser_defenestrator
‘Exploiting’ Filipina Mail Order Brides?
Joe Rogan likes to bring up on his podcast how we are living in the easiest time ever to be alive, and because of that people are always looking for new issues to complain about.
Its that hot take society I mentioned before, things are so easy now that people have to go out of there way to make a big deal about nothing. The list of things that have filled this gap over the years is a lengthy one, and a recent ‘OMG THIS MUST BE STOPPED’ outcry came over Filipina mail order brides.
I don’t know all of the details but I think it started over some new TV show that was supposed to be about a Filipina mail order bride coming to the US. Doubt the show would be any good, but if done right I guess it could have.
I think the show had to get canceled because of the outcry from the massive internet hot take herd. They said that this showed the exploitation of women and that it should never be on TV.
Alec Baldwin Joke
There was also a huge uproar about a little joke Alec Baldwin made about hiring a Filipino Mail Order bride, on the Late show.
Baldwin later apologized but the Philippines Bureau of Immigration still blacklisted him from entering the country. One Filipino senator threatened to beat him up if he ever saw him. Filipinos are super sensitive about any criticism or looking bad on the world stage.
Is it Really so Bad
If they did any research or put any thought into this though they would quickly realize that these girls want nothing more in life than to have the chance to marry a westerner and live in a first world country.
They hold out hope every day, logging onto dating sites praying that some ‘white knight’ is there for them. It is like the number 1 goal in many of their lives, their one chance to get out.
So, the guy is happy, he now has a hot young bride. The girl is happy, she has escaped the third world and will soon be posting pictures of her nice new home and all the gifts she gets on Facebook to make her friends back home super jealous.
Everyone involved in the situation is happy, except for the herd of morons on the internet that are looking for something to complain about. You know, the people that have nothing to do with this situation at all and are completely ignorant to what they are talking about.
To be honest I don’t really like commenting on stuff like this. It is a little to ‘real’ for my tastes, and when I first heard about the TV show the thought of a post popped in my head but I decided to pass.
Filipino Mail Order Bride Success Stories
Then Jspill said that there was a viral Reddit thread with some funny posts that he wanted to share and asked me to write something up on it.
So I weighed in, to all ignorant idiots out there: if something makes all parties involved happy and your ass that has NOTHING to do with the situation isn’t affected in the slightest please kindly shut the hell up.
But ya, Filipino Cupid is pretty much the modern day mail order bride service. Wonder if the ignorant herd will start to attack it next. Here are some of the best mail order bride success stories I read to come out of the Philippines:
There’s no such thing as mail order brides unless you mean those sketchy “services” that match you up. I met my ex-wife (American) and my current wife (Filipina) on the internet (an international match.com kind of thing). My current wife is the best person I’ve ever met. We met from chatting online and skype and I traveled to the Philippines to meet. She ran her own business there and we hit it off pretty well.. a couple years later we’re married in the states, culture shock is a thing, we were out at an event and she asked “where are all the Americans?” In her view Americans were all white people lol. She is a year older than me (I can’t understand how people connect across generation gaps). Anyway, we’re like mirrors and we laugh so much it hurts. Best decision I ever made to get out of my comfort zone and talk to new people. Married for years and extremely happy, like all relationships you get what you put in.
– Redditor tinfang
My friend Richard has a mail-order bride from the Philippines. He’s a scruffy redneck long-haul trucker from West Virginia, she’s tiny, slender, and ten years his junior. At first she cooked, cleaned, and kept his bed warm, but after a few years she told him she wanted an education. He put in a ton of overtime and saved up enough to put her through college. She’s a physician’s assistant now and makes more money than he ever has, but she still makes him dinner and makes a point of always being waiting at the door when he gets back from a long haul. They’ve been together for 20 years now and its a joy to see them together.
– Redditor Snaiperskaya
Although my parents were always too ashamed to admit this to anyone but myself and my sister, my mom was a “mail order bride” about 23-24 years ago. This was before all the online companies that do this, so my father had to find my mother in a sort of magazine catalogue of Filipino women. He sent her letters, and she replied, over the course of a year. They finally met and my mom moved to my dad’s tiny hometown, got married, and they had two daughters together (one being myself). They were both looking for a better life, and someone who would treat them better than past partners had. And they both got that, plus it turns out they both have the travel bug. So now they’re retired, living a nomadic life travelling the globe, and they got more than they ever hoped for. Sure, I’ve always known there were some serious cultural differences between my parents that they’ve never been able to fully reconcile. My mom, being from a very traditional village in Northern Philippines has a hard time understanding a lot of North American norms and beliefs, and they butt heads over a lot of small things. These cultural clashes have taught me so much though, and their collective love of travel and culture has inspired me to study Anthropology and travel around the globe. I can’t imagine having lived in a home where we didn’t eat bacon and rice, pancit and steak, or purple (ube) birthday cakes on a regular basis. tldr; My mom was a mail order bride, resulting in a long-term happy marriage between my parents and purple birthday cake for me. 😀
– Redditor Dragonflie
My dad too. He was 50 something, she was 19.. I was 29. Have a 4 year old half sister I’ve never met residing in the Phillipines. Dad’s replacement kid and wife and I’ve not seen a photo or heard anything from him again 🙁
– Redditor BeetShrute
My uncle is married to a wonderful Filipina “mail order bride.” He’s a socially awkward aspie; she’s warm, gregarious and funny. They’ve been together probably 18 years and they have a great, we’ll-adjusted kid. As a teen, I thought it was such a weird relationship. I imagined, for her, that it was very shallow and lacking in fulfillment. Now, I can see that they both got a better life–her financial situation improved, as well as that of her family back home. She has a beautiful child, and she married into a pretty nice family. For my uncle’s part, he has a wife and daughter who care about him and help him navigate the world. I adore her mostly because she was so good to my grandmother (uncle’s mom). She visited her all the time, called her “mom,” made sure her daughter (she’s my cousin even though she’s younger than my own kids) had a solid relationship with grandma. All in all, I think my uncle seriously lucked out by meeting such a great “bride.”
– Redditor common_cactus
I used to know a mail order bride. Her name was Ivy, she was Filipino and was married to a fat, useless slob of a man. He used to be a regular at a strip club I was bartending at, he’d come in on the poker nights to gamble away his welfare cheque, and fathers inheritance money. She’d come in and sit on the barstools and talk to the girls – a few Vodka and Cokes in and you’d learn her entire story. She was actually intelligent, and outrageously funny in a cynical kind of way. Her English was okay – sometimes her syntax would let her down or she’d get words mixed up, but she could have a full conversation and she understood sarcasm to a degree. The customer/her husband was entitled, loud, stank like shit and never tipped anyone, dancer nor bartender and usually had to be kicked out when he lost at poker for trying to fight the dealer, the winner and the bouncer. I think she was happy for him to try and grope the dancers for a few hours as it took the attention off her. The staff all liked her, and she was pretty enough that if she ever decided to kick the slob to the gutter she could have danced to make some cash. Tbh I do hope she leaves him eventually, no woman deserves to put up with a man like that.
– Redditor singularpotato
Used to know a guy in SoCal who got a Filipina mail order bride, and he got just what he wanted. This girl was from a jungle village, as in she could climb tall trees barefoot to harvest coconuts or what have you. Young, sweet, cute, petit woman who was learning English quite well. She was happy to be “whisked away” to relative prosperity and he was happy to have someone completely dependent on him. He refused to let her get a Driver’s license. She seemed to have the wits to handle her situation. This was 24 years ago, so what happened with them I have no idea.
– Redditor KyotoGaijin
My father married an ex? mail order bride in March. They had been seeing each other for three years before the marriage and they are really cute together. She has a son to the man that had ordered her and they were together for 10 years. He never had a job during that time while she worked her ass off to support them both. The story goes that he went over to the Philippines to meet the girl he was chatting to online (my step mothers cousin) but the girl was too “ugly” so he asked if there were any other options and he found my step mum. They were married with only two other people in the room and had a pretty terrible relationship from what I’ve heard. When she married my father they invited everyone they knew and went all out and it was great seeing how happy they are together. My sister is unsure about her though and has only met her about five times (including the wedding). When they first met I was her room mate for a while when my father was working overseas so we get along really well. We spent today reorganising their house, actually. She is 33 and he is 50.
– Redditor q64a
My great uncle on my moms side did the mail order bride thing in his late thirties. Got a women from the Phillipines. She hit it off with the family almost immediately- according to my mom they liked her far more than him. She was with him until he died, never divorced or had any complaints of him and was pretty adamant that she loved him-my moms only comment was that that Uncle wasnt malicious, just socially awkward and was “just the type” to order a bride. Shes still alive, Ive met her a few times and she was very nice. Shes one of the people included a lot in family lore. I had no idea she was a mail order bride until recently but it wasnt a secret, just one of those things they forgot to mention.
– Redditor SoundwaveEject
One of my uncles, who is Filipino, convinced one of his white coworkers to marry his 28 year old niece who was still living in the Philippines at the time. The guy was at least 20 years older than her. The relationship was really rocky the first 2 years. She hated him, basically. But she stuck with the relationship, got him to go church and they were more or less, together. About ten years into the marriage the guy needed a kidney transplant. Months pass, he can’t work anymore and she’s spending all her free time outside of work taking care of him at the hospital while he’s waiting for a kidney. I visited one time while he was in the hospital and she broke down telling my other relatives and me how much she loved him and she didn’t want to lose him. The doctors finally give him like less than 3 months to live if he doesn’t get a kidney and after a month and half later, he got the kidney, recovered and went back to work within a year’s time. At a family get-together he bragged to everyone including me about how amazing he feels and how much he thought he was dead and that he was blessed to have a new lease on life. Then a few months later I get call from him saying that he’s met someone online and that he still considers me family. In shock, I tell him I’m busy and then called my aunt who then explained to me he found a 21 year old single Filipina mom from Cebu and already filed divorce papers against my uncle’s niece, who was almost 40 at the time.
– Redditor rayliam
My dad married a mail order bride from the Phillipines. He’s 78. She’s 37, which is my age. It weirded me out at first that my stepmom is a few months younger than me. They married about ten years ago, and he moved back to the Phillipines after living in the US for forty years. She’s really a sweetheart and not at all like the ‘black widow’ stereotype I assumed she’d be. She is very adamant about him not eating junk food and voila, his pre-diabetic status is gone, no more gouts, his double chin is one chin! And I have a wonderful little stepbrother.
– Redditor AyeYoDisRon
My moms brother married a Filipina mail-order bride sometime in the early 80s, and I’m closer with her than my uncle. He found her in some sort of magazine service, and they sent letters back & forth for a couple years. He eventually flew to the Fillipines to meet her, and stayed there for a while to get to know her more. They ended up working out, and he brought her back to America with him. She & him had two kids, and were married very happily until about 7 years ago. I think he just had some issues with alcohol + depression and couldn’t maintain a job. They separated, but she and him are both on great terms still. She’s one of my favorite aunts and makes amazing food for all of our family get togethers!
– Redditor mrmikeman2
After 25 years in a hellish marriage to my mother and many young “girlfriends”, my dad flew to the Philippines and met his much younger wife. He got married down there, brought her back and they have been together for like 17 years now. And thank god for her! He’s in his 70’s and she takes care of him like he’s a king. He almost died of pneumonia last year and she stuck by his side and took care of him. He is not wealthy AT ALL. In fact she works 2 jobs to help him. I’m actually really grateful for her. My kid calls her “grandma” and she’s just an amazing and kind woman. Best thing my weird old, womanizing dad ever did was fly down there and marry her.
– Redditor Sasha1382
My father-in-law brought a woman over from the Philippines. She was 27 and he was 50 I believe. He met her online, then went to the Philippines and proposed to her. She moved back here with him and they got married. She was very awkward and quiet at first and I had my suspicions she might be using him for money, but now a few years later they seem very happy together. She is in medical school here and does get a lot of things financially out of the relationship, but they talk about having kids and moving back to the Philippines one day after she becomes a doctor so I guess they are happy.
– Redditor zenchanting
My uncle went to the Philippines looking for a wife, after a marriage breakup with 4 kids. The potential wife and he didn’t hit it off when they met, but there was a cheeky young woman who kept looking over the fence, and caught his eye. She’s been my aunty for many many years, and they love each other so much, it’s really lovely to see. She was unable to have children, but Now she has her children by working in childcare. Shes been a great step mum to my cousin’s, and is now a great grandma to the grandchildren.
– Redditor AliMentry
I was at the other end, a Filipina got me to make her pregnant (i was horny and stupid). And know she left back to the PH without asking money or anything….
– Redditor Fabel873
As an expat, who has worked in Asia for many years, I see quite a few aging men getting together with significantly younger Asian spouses. I never understood the societal disapproval. In many Asian cultures, arranged marriages were the cultural norm and oftentimes partners don’t meet each other until the day of their wedding. It still happens now in many places. Marriage is viewed as a financial or strategic arrangement first, romantic second. In many of these case a dowry is involved. For the western groom, if they are smart/cautious they will enter into these arrangements with a pre-nupt. They can then try it out and let the feelings develop like in the arranged marriage situation. If things work out great. If not, some ways they have an easier out than a marriage based on romantic notions. Meaning less social stigma as people expect them to fail anyway, etc. In some ways probably less stress on the relationship.
– Redditor ShanghaiDaddy
I have a medical condition and joined a Facebook group with people with the same medical condition from all over the world to talk to more people my age. So a couple of years ago I started talking to a Filipino girl around my age she seems like a lovely girl from a good family (pretty well off she has an iPhone and regularly goes to concerts/shopping). She can also speak/type English really well. She’s very religious and constantly post quotes about God and the bible. Suddenly she started posting pictures with an older fat foreign guy, I done a little digging and found out he was from the US and they were apparently engaged although she had just started posting pictures with him and mentioning him in her post. He would send her things like pizza, flowers, jewellery fast forward to 2 years later she’s now engaged to a different man from the US, he looks even older than the first guy but they seem happy in her pictures and it looks like he treats her well. I just don’t understand why a young intelligent pretty well off girl would want to date an older guy just because he of where he’s from. The men are easily old enough to be her dad I just don’t get it.
– Redditor Peggysuexo
A neighbor of mine, a sad middle aged White guy with no luck with women, one day said: “I ordered a wife in Phillipines”. He picked her on a catalogue, and went to the Phillipines to pick her up and bring her back to Europe. Part of me thinks its fcked up. But the other part of me thinks: He took some girl out of poverty, he wasnt finding love in Europe anyway (European women have high standards), so why the heck not? I think mail order brides are like the old way of marriage used to be in the old world. You dont necessary marry for love, you marry so you have a reliable wife you can finish your days with. In the modern Western world, to be honest, its hard to find that nowadays in a woman. Everybody just wants to have fun, and when its not fun anymore, she leaves you. Its all a game.
– Redditor Pict455
I have a weird perspective on this because I’ve been to the Philippines and met a bunch of girls that kind of meet this criteria. The PI is chock full of gorgeous girls who speak decent to perfect English and are petty current on American pop culture. I hung out with a few and there were definitely a couple that would have immediately come to America with me. And I was only really meeting girls with decent jobs and lifestyles in the Manila area. Honestly, they were great girls and dating them wasn’t substantially different from dating American women when you got right down to it. The girl I spent the most time with and became really good friends with to this day (still in fairly regular contact) was always adamant that she was just having fun and not looking to marry some foreigner and leave. She also would encourage me not to spend too much and would make an effort to contribute to whatever we were doing. I was also adamant that I wasn’t falling in love with a foreign girl. Of course we were both kind of bullshitting each other and ourselves. She’s now married to another American dude (young, seemingly nice dude from a good family) and I’m very happily married to a girl I met back home. They’re actually Facebook friends and my wife is cool and confident enough that it’s no big thing.
– Redditor ExpatJundi
I have a family member who has a mail order bride from the Philippines. He met a woman “online” and traveled to the Philippines to meet her. When he was there he realized he didn’t like her very much but ended up falling for her sister. He and the sister been married for over a decade and have a couple kids.
– Redditor ctrlaltdeeleet
My neighbor married a mail order bride. He has Asperger Syndrome, and she’s a lovely and caring Filipino lady. They now have 3 kids (oldest is 14). They argue all the time, so I keep seeing her sitting in her car outside, listening to the radio. What’s super strange about this is that about 8 years ago the wife arranged for her younger sister to marry my neighbor from the other side of the house. So now I’m sandwiched between a mail order bride on one side, and an arranged-marriage couple on the other.
– Redditor GirlWorshipper
Someone I know met this mail order bride from the Philippines. Her family told him that he had to buy the entire family shoes so they could attend the wedding.
– Redditor DutchGirlinKY
I suspect my uncle’s wife is one. My uncle has always been lovely but a little ‘odd’. My mum suspects autism, and now I have an autistic child myself I see it too. He has a lovely wife who arrived here not speaking a word of English from the Phillipines, apparently they met as ‘pen pals’. Anyway, they’ve been together for 20+ years and have two kids together. They work well because he doesn’t understand subtlety of societal rules and she has that Asian bluntness so he never has to guess what she is feeling.
– Redditor doubtyoullseeme
I have a friend from high school who met his wife this way. After high school he’d traveled the world with his job, but never settled down. After he met his wife on-line, he went to the Philippines to meet her, and they agreed to marry. I think, from all outward signs, they are very happy and it was a great match for each of them. Truthfully, they seem happier than most couples I know.
– Redditor iridescent_dragon
So this is a little off topic, because my wife is not a mail order bride, but i have to say thank you to everyone who has gone the mail order bride route before. I started talking to my wife via the now defunct dating site LavaLife. I was looking for a local girl, and she was looking for a local boy, however I am in Canada, and she is in the Philippines. An erroneous search result turned her up, and so I messaged her, and she replied. Both of us being single, somewhat lonely, and slightly bitter, hit it off right away, and became fast friends. 5 years later we were married, and she is now living in Canada with me. We have been married for 10 years now, and are sickeningly happy. when it came time to get married and to bring her over to Canada, I was very worried about the immigration process the the hurdles we would have to go through, however, because of the mail order brides that have come before us, it was a relatively simple, if labor intensive and expensive, process to follow. Not to mention the number of country specific guides that are out there, detailing every part of the process. So thank you for laying down the traffic to make this one government process straight forward for a change.
– Redditor usersnamesaretooshor
I spent a couple years in Okinawa in the Army and the “bar girl” scene was a constant source of drama. One of my civilian/contractor friends got involved with a Filipina bar girl to the point of wanting to marry her. First off, you have to pay the bar to get any time with her for dates and if you want to marry her you buy her out of her contract with the bar. So I don’t remember if he’s buying this woman outright or paying off a bit a time but basically she was sending all the money back to the Philippines to her husband she neglected to mention she had. Needless to say when he found this out their arrangement did not continue. He waited a few weeks and picked up another girl from the bar. Fast forward 11 years and they’re happily living in the US.
– Redditor chris_4
When I was a kid, my father had a friend who had a Filipino mail order bride. He was a pretty old guy, in his 80s, and she was young and pretty. It was pretty obvious it wasn’t a loving relationship, but it was a good relationship, at least as much as one like that can be. They had an adorable kid, he was loaded. I knew some people who were close to her and it didn’t seem like she was ever mistreated. Whenever I saw her she seemed genuinely happy. Weird situation, but I guess it worked out for them as much as it can.
– Redditor rent-a-kitten
I’ve heard both sides of the story. Usually, Philipino brides (a) become incredibly good wives, AND (b) you don’t marry the girl you marry the family and adopt them… send them money, clothes, food, other stuff they can’t get back there; OR (c) it takes forever for her to get her visa, etc in order and you pay and pay and pay and pay and pay until she falls out of love with you and stops writing to you. The latter happened to a guy I worked with. And he wasn’t wealthy by any means, he was a security guard whose face looked like he’d been hit by a truck. He went to the Phillippines, married her and hassled with the US Immigration service for 4 years.
– Redditor franksymptoms
My neighbor married one. He owns a scrapyard with his dad and they pretty much work there from 7am until 9pm. So he has no social life. He met this girl online in a chat room and she wanted to move to USA from Philippines. We thought it was weird she wanted money ahead of time. Longer story short. They are married. Have a kid and seem happy. She did have him pay to get her parents and aunt over though
– Redditor fusionman51
Of course there are plenty of horror stories too about the newlywed Filipino wife leaving the husband as soon as she got her Green card or citizenship. Read the whole Reddit thread here.
It’s pretty funny how most of the stories are about Filipina girls. As one commenter posted, mail order brides seem to be the Philippines’ main export. Even though the official business of it is now illegal, dating sites like Filipino Cupid, Asian Dating (full of Pinays) and Pinalove have stepped up to the plate.
Moving to SEA in 2011, Dante is the author of ‘Get More Bang for Your Buck in Asia’, ‘Filipina Girls 101’, ‘Your First Trip to Angeles City’, and more Amazon ebooks.